After last week’s mesmerizing 5-4 overtime victory against Washington and Lee University (Va.), the Emory men’s soccer team maintained their early season momentum in the Ciallella Classic in New Jersey during Sept. 8 and 9. The Eagles edged past Rowan University (N.J.) 1-0 and Rutgers University-Camden (N.J.) 2-1 to preserve a perfect start to the season.
Against Rowan, junior midfielder Jun Tsuru supplied an assist for the game-winning goal scored by junior midfielder Keegan McCombie. McCombie delivered the lone goal of the game with a shot that rifled off the crossbar.
In a game dominated by first-class defensive quality, sophomore goalkeeper Cole Gallagher notched his second shutout of the season to record his eighth career shutout between the posts for Emory. Gallagher made two saves to keep the Eagle’s winning streak alive.
Head Coach Corey Greiner said he was pleased with how his defense responded after conceding four goals to Washington and Lee.
“We realized that we definitely had to continue to improve on a lot of areas, obviously defending being one of them,” Greiner said. “For this past week, [the goal] was keeping our shape, making sure guys were spacing, communicating effectively and getting some of the reads down a little bit earlier so that we could snuff out issues before they became dangerous chances against us.”
Against Rutgers-Camden, Emory fought for a scrappy 2-1 win. Rutgers-Camden had nearly double the shots on target than Emory (7-4), but Gallagher made five crucial saves (notching his 12th save of the season) to build Emory’s winning streak to four games. Sophomore forward Nate Sampson credits the team’s defensive solidity as a key factor to their success.
“[Gallagher] has been playing incredible,” Sampson said. “Our whole defense played unbelievable this weekend. We would not have been in the games without them.”
Greiner was also impressed with Gallagher’s performances.
“I still feel comfortable and confident with [Gallagher] as a starting role in the goalkeeping position,” Greiner said. “As of now, he’s locked it down.”
Emory started positively against Rowan, getting on the scoreboard first through Sampson, assisted by Tsuru. Sampson drilled in his first Emory career goal in style, blasting the ball off the crossbar from the top of the 18-yard box. Despite Rowan leveling the score five minutes later, a late header courtesy of senior midfielder Tyler Santee snatched the win for Emory.
Tsuru affirmed his role as a creator and delivered another game-changing assist. His pair of assists from both games earned him the Offensive MVP award, while Santee was awarded the Defensive MVP award.
Sampson emphasized Tsuru’s importance for team success.
“[Tsuru] is always dangerous,” Sampson said. “He is really good offensively, one-on-one. He can beat anybody down the line. He serves a lot of really good balls in and finishes really well too.”
The Eagles will look to keep their undefeated season alive when they host Millsaps College (Miss.) on Sept. 15 at 5 p.m.